Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

Transit network planning directly influences street design. Major routes with frequent service demand higher priority in street space allocation. Collective transport can provide convenient and reliable service given thoughtful geographic consideration and priority within the streets.

Geographic coverage of a transit network is relevant to both equity and efficiency. Transit networks are inherently linked to comprehensive planning that shapes land use and density decisions, and should be carefully coordinated. Transit systems can strategically attract new development and offer economic benefits to local businesses.

Prioritizing collective transport with dedicated on-street facilities helps a city move large numbers of people quickly and efficiently. This allows dedicating space within the street for other uses and supports sustainability goals.

Quality pedestrian environments around stops and stations, and easy access to cycle infrastructure such as cycle share, cycle lanes, and secure cycle parking spaces are critical to the success of a comprehensive mobility system.

Multiple collective transit systems can work together on urban streets to create a comprehensive and reliable network. Consider the following variables when designing or improving transit networks through street design.

Network Type

Network type is a contextual consideration in street design. The planned or existing network affects the efficiency of a mass transit system. Grid networks on major streets connecting to large employment activity hubs are the most competitive form in most cities allowing transfers between lines and access to the whole city.

Service Type

Service frequency, capacity, stop spacing, and destination density are major influences on street design. High-capacity services can offer greater speed, increased trip distance, and reliability, while local routes bridge shorter gaps, but with lower speeds and capacity. Effective networks employ a mix of service types based on contextual considerations and demands.

Network Directness and Legibility

Identify key travel and commuting corridors to help plan direct and frequent service and serve locations where less formalized transit bridges first- and last-mile gaps. The transit system must accommodate both the regular user and the first-time rider, providing predictable, reliable, and legible service.

Station Planning

Create dense and mixed-use developments around transit stops to increase transit ridership. Provide a high-quality public realm, walkable streets, comfortable station design, and interchange between complementary modes to further attract ridership, and compound transit benefits. Small collective transport generally offers a flexible operation when stops are not necessarily established or formalized. Planning stops for these type of services can be beneficial for both mass transit and small collective transport.

Network Integration

Integrated transit services extend network connectivity and increase the area covered by transit, encouraging modal shifts. Design quality transfer points to facilitate the safe integration between different types of transit services, such as rapid mass transit and local collective transport.


Measure transit network performance based on the user ability to conveniently reach destinations and the cost to do so. Fixed routes at predictable intervals with broad coverage areas and frequent services perform well for passengers. A single metric, such as the average travel time in a system, is not sufficient. Create system-wide measures such as the number of jobs an average resident can reach in 30, 45 or 60 minutes. See: Measuring and Evaluating Streets.



Nearly one-third of citizens in Nairobi, Kenya use the city’s Matatu system of privately owned minibuses, but it was only recently officially mapped. A collaborative project of the University of Nairobi, Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development, MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab, and Groupshot, Digital Matatus has been using crowd-sourcing data collection through mobile phones to standardize transit data for Nairobi’s Matatus, making the maps available to the public for the first time.

Transit Networks: Great transit networks provide a hierarchy of services that facilitate trips both long and short, crosstown and local. Concentrate investments on congested and high-volume corridors, while ensuring that geographic coverage serves all communities equitably. Plan transit networks for legibility, with an understanding of how riders use the system. Collective transport mode is less important than service frequency and destination access.

Guangzhou, China. This BRT system opened in 2010 and travels in a dedicated transitway.
Helsinki, Finland. A transit street with one of the world's oldest electrified tram systems.
São Paulo, Brazil. Transit shelters line corridors with high transit ridership.

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

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